Jenn King

Hometown: Estacada

Why she is an Amazing Neighbor:
Jenn King answered a call to action when the Dowty Road Fire threatened her neighborhood and later joined her city's volunteer fire crew, among other providing other services to her community. 


Estacada woman Jenn King inspired to action by community need during wildfires, pandemic

They say some people run from fires while others run toward them.

Despite having no previous firefighting experience, Jenn King decided to stand her ground and work together with her neighbors to fight the Dowty Road fire when it came to within 50 yards of her home in 2020. After sending her parents-in-law and children to safety, King and her husband, Kenji, stayed back to stop the fire’s growth and save their home and their neighbors’ homes.

“The fire came right to our back door,” she explained. “We had no warning. I learned why it’s so important to have a fire department that is locally based.”

This experience inspired the now 40-year-old King to get involved with her local fire district. She attended the academy to learn to fight fires and joined the effort to re-localize the district to create more immediate access to lifesaving resources for her community.

“Once the fires happened, I wanted to be a part of being able to protect the community and learn more,” King said. “So, I also joined the transition committee, and together we worked on a plan to restart the Estacada Fire District. We worked to bring back a district that we could be proud of.”

King had no ties to the district or firefighting before she took on this volunteer role. Her day job is insurance, which she’s done for 18 years. So, the adage “baptism by fire” is all too apt for her situation.

But, King said, she loves her community, and the pandemic and the Estacada area fires of 2020 ignited a need for her to get more involved. So she did, and now she’s won multiple awards for her community work.

In 2022, King was Estacada Fire’s Firefighter of the Year, recognized for saving a life. This year she was given the Chief’s Award.

Aside from fighting fires, Jenn is a definite people person with a knack for organizing efforts. She serves on the peer support team, which brings firefighters together to navigate loss and mental health impacts from the job, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, she also helped form an Estacada youth basketball program.

“Once COVD hit, I decided to get involved heavily,” King explained.

She’s one of three people on the Estacada Youth Basketball program board and runs a free basketball clinic for kids out of Grace Community Church.

“Last year, our program was really successful,” she said. Now, King and the nonprofit sports organization are working to fund a new basketball court at the Estacada Middle School. When she’s not fighting fires or working, she’s caring for her family, including two sons who are heavily involved in extracurriculars.

“These things (firefighting and basketball) are on the side, and it makes life pretty busy,” King explained. “Having these volunteer opportunities is great. It just means I have to balance my time.”

That said, King wouldn’t change her current commitments and has no plans to stop anytime soon.

“The fire department has been a great experience where I found people who’ve become family,” she explained. “I love this community. It’s been a great place to raise my kids. There are some really great people (and) everybody just comes together.”

“These wildfires aren’t going anywhere,” King added. “I’m not afraid anymore. Feeling like I can make a difference has really helped. I’m so glad this was a success story (and) I know there are so many people out there who are ready to respond.”